Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ordinariate Low Mass

Having been glad to attend Sunday worship at Holy Cross, South Caulfield, with the new Ordinariate parish based there, I determined to come back on Monday evening the 10th of September for the advertised 7 pm Mass, which was to be Fr Seton's first as a Catholic priest and sole celebrant – he had announced that it would be a Votive of the Holy Ghost, in thanksgiving for priesthood.  This late evening Mass was also very convenient for me, since I spent Monday visiting both Ballarat and Bendigo, following the route of the upcoming Christus Rex Pilgrimage between those cities in order to further familiarize myself with it, and so I drove the better part of four hundred kilometres!

The evening Mass was to be followed at 8 pm by the weekly meeting of the Ordinariate Discussion Group, but of course I didn't stay on for that; I was a little surprised that so few attended the Mass before it however: apart from Father and his two adult servers, there were only four communicants present.  Clearly the servers are used to serving at Mass ad orientem: since the credence table was on the right side of the sanctuary (as seen from the nave), but they had to go to the left side of the altar to bring up the cruets, etc., they seemed a bit puzzled as how to best move around the sanctuary.  I sympathized, as I remember having the same problem in the Lithuanian Chapel under St Peter's Basilica, where Fr Rowe said Mass at an altar at which – as at Holy Cross – it was impossible to celebrate facing liturgical east.

Mass took about forty minutes (there was no singing nor sermon, unfortunately – I must still look forward to hearing Fr Seton preach, good preaching being of course an element of Anglican Patrimony that the whole Church is desperately in need of receiving – but, luckily, no collection: I had heard horror stories of Anglicans taking up collections even at weekday services). The minor propers used, as also the readings and orations, were all, of course, in honour of the Holy Ghost; the service was seemingly that found in the existing Book of Divine Worship for Catholics of the Anglican Use (presently undergoing revision in a more traditional direction – I believe the Roman commission looking after this is called Anglicanæ Traditiones, significantly enough.)

There is something very fine about beginning Mass with the Collect for Purity, especially in this case:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. 
(This is one prayer that I myself have taken to heart, repeating it in my private prayers morning and night, and before Mass.)

Similarly, before the Offertory, to hear the Invitation "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins...", to join in the general confession with its sobering words, and to hear the words of the absolution pronounced is to benefit greatly from the real treasures of the Anglican Patrimony, now brought into full union with the Catholic Church.  As David Schütz said to me, the average Catholic doesn't think about sin in the way that the Anglican general confession talks about it – but should:
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Again, how good to hear the longer Anglican version of the Preface of the Holy Ghost! I quote now from the 1662 BCP, as I have it to hand – though I am unsure whether this was the exact wording employed at Mass – since its words are so very apposite for such recently-received persons as the celebrant and his flock:
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, with a sudden great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, in the likeness of fiery tongues, lighting upon the Apostles, to teach them, and to lead them to all truth; giving them both the gift of divers languages, and also boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of thy Son Jesus Christ. Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying, 
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most High. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
(The Sanctus of course included the Benedictus at this Mass, which is why I quote it here, despite not being in the 1662.)

The Roman Canon and the other prayers of the Mass were beautiful in their sacral English wording.  But to my mind best of all (unfortunately, it had not been used at the Sunday Mass) at the point just before Communion when the server at a Low Mass would say the Third Confiteor (as Fr Rowe prefers), Fr Seton's servers instead led us in the Prayer of Humble Access:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
Communion was distributed to all under both kinds, all kneeling.

All said, apart from some few differences (above all, being in sacral English rather than in Latin), the service was closer in reverence, ethos and structure to the EF Low Mass one may find in the next suburb (at St Aloysius) than to the OF otherwise found in average parishes.  As a confirmed Traddie, I would have liked it if the prayers at the foot of the altar, the Last Gospel and such other EF devotions had been read at this Mass, but truly I can hardly complain – I caught myself thinking how convenient it was that it was in English not Latin, which is not my normal default setting when at worship.  I suppose this form of Mass is if anything closest to the 1965 transitional Missal, of which I have a copy in the form of a Mass booklet as used here in Australia at that time: if only the reform of the liturgy had proceeded no further...

Given this most reverent liturgy, I also went to Holy Cross on Tuesday morning, hoping to experience it again, but found it was the ordinary scheduled OF parish Mass instead of the Ordinariate Mass I had been expecting – of course, Mass is Mass, so I was glad to stay on and receive Communion.

Ad multos annos, Fr Seton; God grant that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross expand and flourish.

1 comment:

Matthias said...

The Burial service from the BCP ( 1662)has a sentence that we should all be reminded of
"Man who is born of woman has but a short time to live"
Purcell out it to music